Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Difficult Crossing

image: Crucifixion, Giovanni di Piermatteo Bocatti, c. 1420, Umbria. Wikimedia commons (link).

In a passage quoted many times before on this blog, Alvin Boyd Kuhn declares:
Bible stories are in no sense a record of what happened to a man or a people as historical occurrence. [ . . . ] They mean nothing as outward events; but they mean everything as picturizations of that which is our living experience at all times. The actors are not old kings, priests and warriors; the one actor in every portrayal, in every scene, is the human soul. The Bible is the drama of our history here and now; and it is not apprehended in its full force and applicability until every reader discerns himself [or herself] to be the central figure in it! 
From the lecture "The Stable and the Manger," delivered in 1936.
This pronouncement holds true for all the stories preserved in what we call the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, as well as for the rest of the myths, scriptures and sacred stories preserved in cultures found on every inhabited continent and island across our planet -- all of which can be shown to be closely related, and built upon the same world-wide system of celestial metaphor which appears to pre-date even the most ancient civilizations known to conventional historical paradigms, including those of ancient Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia, ancient China, and the ancient Indus-Saraswati civilization.

In Lost Light, published in 1940, Kuhn notes that the "three-day pause" found in the gospel accounts of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, as well as in the account of the crossing over Jordan to enter the Promised Land which also involves a three-day pause (see Joshua chapters 1 through 3, and particularly Joshua 1: 11 and Joshua 3: 2), "is emblematic of the three 'days' in the bleak underworld without the sustenance of the solar light" which takes place at the winter solstice during the annual cycle each year, as well as during the monthly cycle of the moon at the time of New Moon each month, and that the Passover and Easter observations thus involve both the cycles of sun and moon, at the restoration of the sun at spring equinox and the first Full Moon after that crossing-point on the annual cycle (405).

Many writers who have perceived that the world's myths involve connections to the cycles of the sun, moon, stars and visible planets tend to stop there, as if the connection to those heavenly cycles were the entire purpose of the myths, and that these connections thus indicate some kind of "nature worship" (whether sun-worship, or moon-worship, or star-worship, or nature-worship in general), but as the first quotation from Kuhn indicates, the ancient myths use the heavenly cycles themselves to explain the experience of the individual human soul -- and that the meaning is not apprehended in its full power until we understand that the drama in every case applies to our own situation at this very moment in our lives.

According to Kuhn's understanding of the myths, an understanding which is supported by an overwhelming volume of evidence, every single human soul is in fact experiencing the Crucifixion and the Passover while "crossing" through this incarnate life, in which spirit is "crossed" with matter and the two struggle together in order to elevate both.

Many previous posts have shown the great "cross" of the year which informs myths from around the world, in which the spirit is cast-down into matter at the point of fall equinox, and upon which the "lower crossing" of the cycle represents the struggle to re-erect the Djed-column which has been thrown down:

This "lower crossing" is the one through which we are all now struggling, crucified in a sense between matter and spirit. The same concept is presented in many different metaphors and stories in the world's myths -- Samson, for example, has his hair shorn off and his strength taken from him, but as the verses immediately following those describing his shaving, blinding, and enslavement tell us, "the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven" (Judges 16: 22).

Kuhn argues that the accounts of Easter and of Passover may be seen as relating specifically to the precise point at the far end of this "lower crossing" (the ascending crossing-point, at spring equinox, seen on the left-hand side or "nine o'clock" position of the circle in the above diagram), but they can also be seen as referring to the entire process the soul undergoes in this incarnate life as it struggles through the experience of this arduous journey. He writes (at one point referring to the soul by the Latin term "manes"):
The significance, then, of the Passover festival becomes clear in relation to the only cosmic or anthropological datum to which it could have any reference. In its widest sense it memorialized simply the passing of the soul over the flowing stream of this life. It was the pilgrimage of the Manes across the sea of experience that lay between the mortal and immortal life. It must never be lost sight of that the Jordan was a stream that marked the boundary line between the desert and the Promised Land. To migrate from animal existence to godlike stature of being we must cross the boundary line separating the two kingdoms. The soul plunges in this water on the western marge, swims or sails across and reaches the "farther shore" on the eastern boundary where he rises to a new day like the sun. As the final stage and termination of the passing over came at the equinox of spring, this date, the first full moon after the equinox, was invested with cumulative and culminating significance of the whole pass-over. It was the fourteenth or the fifteenth of the Hebrew month Nisan. But after all it is a question of minor difference whether the term "Passover" is taken to embrace the whole extent and duration and experience of the passing across life's sea, or more specifically the crossing of the final boundary line at the Easter equinox; whether the passage is over the lines at beginning and end of the journey, or over the entire space between then. It may mean the passing into, the passing out of, or the passage across, the realm of bodily life, and has apt significance in any case. 405.
The fact that these events are commemorated at times relating to the first full moon after the spring equinox indicates that they have to do with heavenly cycles and not with literal and terrestrial history. 

But this realization does not "rob" them of their significance -- in fact, as Kuhn indicates in the first quotation above, the world's ancient myths convey their full force and power when we realize that they signify internal truths and an internal struggle which applies to each and every man and woman, and a connection to an Infinite Realm to which we actually have constant access even during the depths of this material incarnation, rather than signifying external events which represent something that is outside of us, applying only to one specific person or one group of people, a misunderstanding which tends to focus our attention on external things we must chase after, or external factors which are actually the very opposite of the internal truths which the stories were intended to convey.

The gospel accounts of the Crucifixion and Resurrection contain numerous details which indicate that, like the rest of the world's Star Myths, they are based upon celestial metaphor rather than terrestrial history. Many of these have been discussed in previous posts and videos, such as this one and this one, and many more are discussed in greater detail (with diagrams) in Star Myths of the World, Volume Three (Star Myths of the Bible). 

Many of the pieces of fine art down through the centuries dealing with the subjects described in the Biblical narratives, including the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, include details which suggest that the celestial foundation of these narratives was preserved and passed down from generation to generation in some way, although the extent to which those individual artists understood the connections they were depicting remains a mystery. 

For instance, in the painting at the top of this post, by the Umbrian artist of the early Renaissance period Giovanni di Piermatteo Bocatti, thought to have been completed around the year 1420, we see a number of noteworthy details which can be argued to correspond to celestial antecedents (in this case, very specific constellations), including the contorted postures of the two outer victims (a common feature in Crucifixion scenes: see for instance here, here and here), the skull positioned at the base of the central Cross, and -- unique to this particular depiction by Bocatti from the 1400s -- the plethora of scorpions depicted on shields, on banners, and on the trappings of the horse and riders included in the scene!

Additionally, while the outward form of the world's myths vary significantly in their details and characters and storyline, common patterns which manifest across cultures and which can also be shown to relate to specific characteristics of well-known constellations indicate that the Star Myths of the world are all in fact closely related in some way. Most likely, in my opinion, is the possibility that they all preserve the remnants of a system of incredible spiritual sophistication from a culture or cultures in remote antiquity predating all the world's known ancient civilizations, perhaps from a culture predating the construction of Gobekli Tepe

The entire cycle of the gospel narrative, for example, can be shown to have very strong parallels to events described in the Odyssey -- which is itself a narrative of an "ocean crossing" (a crossing-over). While the characters and action of the Odyssey are (on their surface) very different from the characters and events described in the gospels, I am convinced that both are informed by the same system of celestial metaphor and treat the same profound themes relevant to the life of each and every man and woman undergoing the "arduous crossing" of the lower realm in which we now find ourselves. 

Examples of parallels found in the Odyssey include the descent of the goddess Leucotheia in the form of a bird prior to the "plunge into water" that Odysseus undergoes during his initial escape from Ogygia, the foot-washing scene in which Eurycleia recognizes the returning Odysseus by a scar from a wound he received as a youth, and the rolling-away of the stone at the mouth of the cave of the Cyclops, which has parallels to the rolling-away of the stone at the mouth of the tomb at Easter and which I believe to be based on the very same constellations and region of the sky in both cases. 

The celestial connections in the Odyssey are explored in great depth in six chapters in Star Myths of the World, Volume Two (which focuses on the myths of ancient Greece).

As Kuhn also notes in Lost Light, strong parallels exist in other myths from around the world and across the millennia -- and this should not surprise us if in fact the world's Star Myths are descended from some very ancient common source. 

For example, he references the early twentieth-century translations by E. A. Wallis Budge of the Pyramid Texts of ancient Egypt, which constitute some of the most ancient surviving physical texts anywhere on the planet, dating to 2300 BC (and incorporating material which was already well-developed at the time of their inscription at that remote date) in which a rebirth after three days is indicated. In Volume Two of Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection (1911), which is available online in its entirety here (and Volume One is available here), a text from the pyramid of Pepi II (who reigned as king during the period from 2246 BC though 2152 BC) is cited which declares:
They transport father Osiris Pepi in their boat, to the eastern side of heaven, to the place where the gods were born . . . father Osiris Pepi is brought forth there in the place where the gods are born. This star cometh on the morrow, and on the third day (page 338, in the translation of Spell 614).
This passage clearly describes another "water crossing" which parallels those Kuhn describes in his discussion of the Passover cited above (which involves the crossing of the Red Sea and which is later echoed by the crossing of the Jordan at the edge of the Promised Land), as well as the arduous "water crossing" undergone by Odysseus. It is a crossing which is described as going to the "eastern side of heaven," which is the place where the stars (including the sun) can be seen to re-emerge from the "underworld crossing" and which is described as "the place where the gods are born." 

Elsewhere in the study of Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection (also in Volume Two), Wallis Budge also points to a myth from the Nandi people of what is today the country of Kenya, which was recorded by Alfred Claude Hollis in The Nandi: Their language and folk-lore (1908), in which a dog requests of the people that he be fed milk from their own drinking-gourd and beer through their own drinking-straw, and that if they will do this for him, he promises that in return, the dog says, "If you do this, I will arrange for you to go to the river when you die, and to come to life again on the third day" (Volume Two, page 146).

Kuhn notes that here, once again, we have the pattern of the third day, as well as the pattern of the crossing of the river (akin to the crossing of Jordan in the book of Joshua). None of the commentators noted above seem to have noticed that the giving of beer and milk from a gourd and through a straw could also be seen as being a strong parallel to the giving of Jesus wine and vinegar from a sponge lifted up on a reed during the accounts of the Crucifixion (see for instance Mark 15: 36). In both cases, I believe that distinctive features of the constellation Ophiucus (located immediately above the constellation Scorpio, whose symbol is so prominently featured in the painting by Bocatti) are involved.

It is in my opinion most regrettable and indeed tragic and also criminal that the incredible myths given to humanity have been used to divide us, and to teach that we need to pursue something (some salvation or redemption) external to ourselves, and that based upon literalistic interpretations of these esoteric stories entire cultures have had their own preserved sacred traditions destroyed at the hands of those desiring to impose literal interpretations of other stories in their place.

Because of these kinds of abuses, many people today also have such strong negative reactions to the stories in the Bible that they have a difficult time realizing that, like all the other world's ancient myths, they have incredible truths to offer for our benefit today -- because they are describing the very "crossing" that we ourselves are currently going through. We should be able to maintain a clear distinction in our minds between the ancient stories themselves and the teachings and actions of those who interpret them in subsequent centuries -- no matter which ancient stories we are talking about.

Overwhelming evidence points to the conclusion that all of the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories are surviving streams from some even more ancient common source -- and that they therefore constitute a precious inheritance that should unite all of us, and should be treasured as a gift from those very ancient ancestors, and consulted as a source of guidance, benefit and blessing for our journey across this difficult sea.